Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Mark Duwe’s Reading List for beginners

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I've finally managed to compile the list of books for beginners, along with a short description of the books. These, I feel, are the best for the absolute beginner (and not too bad on an experienced bookshelf either), as they have great, simple descriptions, big, colourful pictures and easy to follow instructions on telescopes, planispheres and binoculars.  The book "Cosmos" is more of a coffee-table book, and it has a few errors in it, but is great to show around as the pictures are quite frankly stunning.


Mark Duwe

April 2007




Guy Consolmagno & Dan M. Davis

Turn Left at Orion — A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - and How to Find Them


A guidebook for beginning amateur astronomers, Turn Left at Orion provides all the information you need to observe the Moon, the planets and a whole host of celestial objects. Large format diagrams show these objects exactly as they appear in a small telescope and for each object there is information on the current state of our astronomical knowledge.


Unlike many guides to the night sky, this book is specifically written for observers using small telescopes. Clear and easy-to-use, this fascinating book will appeal to sky watchers of all ages and backgrounds.


This book is one of those “I wish I’d had this book when I first started” books that is invaluable and informative to the beginner.


No previous knowledge of astronomy is needed.




Robin Scagell

Philips Complete Guide to Stargazing


This book first introduces the wonders of the night sky and explains how and why the sky changes during the night and through the seasons. It describes the variety of equipment that can be used - binoculars, telescopes and telescope mounts - with information on what to choose, how to set it up and what to expect to see. There also plenty of tips for those who wish to observe with the naked eye.


Next, it looks in turn at the Moon, the Solar System, stars and deep sky objects. In each section it describes how to observe your chosen target and what to look for. The text is illustrated with photographs and observational drawings made by talented amateur astronomers, as well as spectacular images returned by spacecraft or taken by large professional telescopes.


A month-by-month guide to the constellations is illustrated with maps showing the constellations on view from both northern and southern hemispheres. The author describes the most interesting objects on view each month, with the help of photographs. The guide is applicable to any year.


Also included is a complete set of star charts, presenting the whole sky in a series of maps that show stars down to magnitude 5.5 - all stars visible with the naked eye in semi-rural conditions. These maps are drawn with black stars on a white background, so that observers can pencil their own observations on to the charts. Opposite each map is a 'photo-realistic' image which shows how the same portion of the sky appears to the eye.


The book finishes with an illustrated and up-to-date A-Z dictionary of astronomy.